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Holiday Greetings from All Three of Rudi's Wives!

Yes. It can happen.

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, October 10, 2007.

There is a big fracas going on in New Hampshire, where the secretary of state has not, as of this writing, decided when he will set their presidential primary date, because other states have moved theirs forward. Right now, it could be, God forfend, this December, which has been pointed out would interfere with a minor religious holiday and retail advertising; would put negative political commercials on the air; would remove the last shred of taste this nation has. I speak as an atheist who likes Christmas and its proclaimed spirit and hates the commercialism, but is used to it. Hearing a Santa Sale on linen followed by an attack on someone's position on gay marriage, or toe-tapping in bathrooms, or the depth of their Chickenhawk credentials does not cheer me, and rather offends me. Deeply.

There is a solution. It strikes me as quite simple and doable. Although there is nothing in law that demands a primary for our political parties, themselves absent from the Constitution, there is certainly a need, and we've managed to make the need critical by monumental incompetence and refusal to argue the underlying issues. Which, you know, is the continued success of representative government with a universal franchise which would be put in danger by an unending election cycle. That.

Nevertheless, we are swept up in a low pressure petri dish because states have now realized that there is money to be made and attention to be paid if they are among the first primaries, and this because candidates would have to campaign and buy lots and lots of advertising. By coincidence, newspapers and local television stations have a lot at stake should they lose or obtain an important primary. Like, millions upon millions of dollars.

What I propose are regional primaries. New England. The Confederate South, except Texas. The northern industrial states from the Middle Atlantic to the Mississippi. The West. The Pacific coast states. Five primaries only. It would not be perfect, but it removes any one state's importance, and it could all be held on one day. Or not. But a primary or series of such in May or June would make it so much better than now, focus voter attention, mandate candidate performance.

What we have now are candidates prostrating themselves at the feet of the Corn lobby in Iowa, where ethanol has become a religion. People say things that cannot mean or believe to assure the farmers that it is a god given right to retain farm and ethanol subsidies. Farmland should be subsidized, but it should be subsidized because it is farmland, which needs to be maintained to feed us and with ample amounts of it to offset natural disaster or biochemical attack. When phrased that way, people upset about subsidies can come around, because you can't legislate the creation of farmland and immediate harvest when it's all built upon. That's the issue. There are different issues between Wyoming and Kansas, Dakota and Arizona, but candidates would hear them if they were forced to. Nobody could afford to ignore a regional primary as they can one state's.

I'm from New England, and I've always liked and found fitting that New Hampshire held the first primary, because it is an odd state and because it seems to have the most honest state government in New England as a matter of course. And it has no huge lobbying sector outside of boilerplate businesses found anywhere. Maple syrup, I suppose. Tourism. But a ready mix of apples and software, arguably representative. But really, so what? It's citizens are no more valuable or productive than, I'm afraid, New Jersey's. It should go.

The problem here, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned in my hearing, is that when Democracy itself has become a product, it is at risk. What we have now, in actual not metaphorical sense, is the performance of the franchise on the auction block for the bidding of moneyed interests. The media is not an objective source of info by anyone's calculation, although divided on it, and isn't informing us. This is very important that citizens understand and can easily participate in the winnowing process of the two parties, and making elections perpetual cannot be the correct remedy for an already lethargic percentage of them.

Just like Hillary Clinton was correct in 2001 when she said the electoral college, a slaveholder memory, should go because it distorts the popular will, so should primaries be corralled and limited by national vote and agreement. But, just like Clinton's remarks back then, as soon as this election cycle begins the problems and issues will become forgotten, and we'll have A Charley Brown Christmas brought to you by the Giuliani for President campaign, followed by a Romney rebuttal. Or Bill and Hillary singing carols. It can happen as soon as two months hence in New Hampshire or Iowa or any state desperate for attention.